"I'm not bitter," Barry Ashbee told newsmen one month ago when doctors told the Philadelphia Flyer assistant coach he had leukemia. "Some people strive 60 years or so to achieve certain goals in life and never make it. I got what I wanted when I was 34. A Stanley Cup. I had thought about being on a Stanley Cup winner since I was 7 years old."
Barry Ashbee, who battled his way through such towns as Lake Shore, North Bay and Hershey onto the Flyers' National Hockey League roster as a defense-man at age 31, died yesterday after chemogherapy failed to arrest the cancerous disease. He was 37.
The year (1974) the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup, the one that gave Ashbee - a second-term NHL all-star by then - what he wanted out of life, a puck fired by Dale Rolfe of the New York Rangers in the Cup semifinals smashed into his right eye. It cost him most of his vision and ended his career as a player.
The Flyers beat Boston that year for the championship, and at the final siren Ashbee was sitting in club owner Ed Snifer's box, crying. "Don't write me up as the great tragic figure," Ashbee said. "Right now, I'm the happiest man alive."
When he went ot the hospital last month, he told son Dann, 12, who survives with Mrs. Ashbee and Heather, 15: I'll be out of the hospital in three weeks. I'll be just as long as any other long road trip" . . .